One man's idea for a PGA Tour/LPGA joint event

By Randall MellMarch 11, 2016, 2:45 pm

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem issued a rare challenge to media Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

He looked into the gathering of reporters in the media ballroom at Trump Doral and asked for help in creating the best possible PGA Tour/LPGA joint event.

“You all, everybody here should think about this,” Finchem said. “If we did have an opportunity to do something together, what would be the coolest format we could use? Because if the opportunity came up, we would want to take full advantage of it.”

As part of its new strategic alliance with the LPGA, the PGA Tour is serious about creating a format to bring the men and women together in an event. Finchem showed just how serious he is with his challenge.

So my hand’s up, commissioner Finchem. Here’s one man’s idea trying to help.

But before laying out this plan for a new international mixed team event, let’s set it up. Let’s lay out why this idea will benefit Finchem’s tour as much as it will benefit the women’s tour.

In the commissioner’s explanation of why the PGA Tour is partnering with the women’s tour, he made a point to praise the LPGA for its “smart” approach to cultivating international markets. He said the PGA Tour wanted to collaborate with the LPGA in “tapping the global marketplace.” You could hear his desire to better capitalize on overseas opportunities, where Asia has to be a priority.

“The LPGA is already positioned as a global tour,” Finchem said. “An increasing percentage of our customers, whether they be title sponsors, official marketing sponsors or just involved in the tournament at some level, are international companies.

“I think I’d have to applaud the LPGA for making the tough decision to say, 'OK, we’re going to be a global tour, and, as a consequence, we’re not going to have as much presence in the United States, but we are going to take advantage of parts of the globe where we are more popular than the men.' That was a very smart way to go about it.”

So here’s how the PGA Tour can collaborate with the women in tapping into a global opportunity:

Create a USA vs. Asia international mixed team event for late fall and play it every other year in Asia with a Ryder Cup style format.

Yes, at first, the men might balk at the idea of playing another international team event, but this wouldn’t have the grueling, pressure-packed edge the Ryder Cup has. The unique mixed team nature of it will make it a more playful, less edgy affair, and yet it would ignite corporate and fan interest in Asian countries, where South Korean and Japanese women are rock stars in golf. You put them in an event with PGA Tour pros, and it promises to be off-the-charts popular in Asia. You don’t necessarily need all the top American male stars to make this work but you need a couple and you need recognizable PGA Tour names.

You schedule this new event for the second week of November, because that works for the men and women. The PGA Tour’s HSBC Champions is played the first week of November, the same week the LPGA concludes its fall Asian swing in Japan. You rotate it from South Korea, Japan and China and you keep it in Asia.

This can have all the feel of a goodwill tour with a huge financial windfall because of the intensity of interest that will come playing an event that features PGA Tour pros and Asian women who are more popular than their male counterparts over there. Imagine a K.J. Choi/Inbee Park pairing in South Korea, a Ryo Ishikawa/Ai Miyazato pairing in Japan, a Tiger Woods/Cheyenne Woods pairing anywhere.

Again, the USA vs. Asia appeal of this is marketed as low key, not-so-silly-season fun because the men don’t need another win or you’re-a-bunch-of-losers event on their schedule. This is a giving-back effort. It’s a grow-the-game effort.

You team six American men with six American women for Team USA. You take two South Korean women, two Japanese women, one Chinese woman and the highest ranked Asian woman not from those countries. And you team those Asian women with men from their own countries. And then you play USA vs. Asia in alternate-shot, foursomes and singles over three days with just 18-hole matches per day. Hey, it’s low key, right?

The PGA Tour wins collaborating with the women to tap global markets. The LPGA wins just playing alongside PGA Tour pros with the new audience the men will bring to the LPGA’s Asian swing.

So where did the PGA Tour commissioner put that idea basket anyway?

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.